Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Moth-eaten Summer

photo of unidentified large moth on window screen
© harrington
Hi! This is the creature that prompted me to order the moth and caterpillar field guides. Apologies for the quality. My iPhone couldn't figure out how to focus through the screen instead of on it. By the way, through the screen you can see the same yard through which "Bearly There" wandered a few days ago. To help orient you, you're looking almost due North, the gravel road is off to the right and the front of the house is also to the right. If you look carefully, you can see a number of dead branches on the oak trees. I finally found an explanation of what's going on. From the National Park Service Mississippi River and National Recreation Area web site:
As the Mississippi River corridor was settled in our area, grass fires became less frequent and fire intolerant trees grew up around the bur oaks. These lesser trees block light to the lower branches of the bur oaks. When branches no longer have access to light, the tree often “self-prunes” letting those useless branches die so valuable resources can be used on those branches that still have access to sunlight. Look for open grown bur oaks with dead lower branches that were once located in what was savanna, but is now forest.
 You may or may not be able to see that the local bur oaks are thick enough (and the fires around here suppressed enough) that the trees are self-shading. Since I haven't noticed similar patterns with maples of birch or ... I'm intrigued by how this evolutionary trait came about and why it seems limited to bur oaks. It does all help me see that individuals, whether trees or people or whatever, are defined in part by the community in which they live. Remember the old saying "clothes make the man person?" Much of what I'm reading and thinking about these days leads me to believe that community makes the person and the people (plus the climate and the trees and the soil and the water and ...) make the community. You know, we're all in this together. Now, about your ecological footprint and you energy use intensity! In fact, I was delighted to learn that a number of Minnesota cities are actually tracking the effects of their sustainability initiatives. They started out as Green Step cities and went on from their to participate in the (statewide) regional indicators initiative. Check it out. Talk to you local community and civic leaders. Join the parade. We need to move beyond green to regenerative development. Sustainable is an intermediate stop. Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served here daily.